CPS and GSPM graduates encouraged to pursue change, meet career goals

Media Credit: Ethan Stoler | Contributing Photo Editor

Tremayne Smith, graduate of the political management program, addressed the graduates at the CPS and GSPM commencement ceremony Saturday night.

The College of Professional Studies and the Graduate School of Political Management celebrated their graduate students Saturday night in the Smith Center.

Dean Ali Eskandarian joined other faculty members in celebrating the accomplishments of graduates from both schools. Students were recognized for their academic and professional achievements during their time obtaining either an online or on campus degree.

Here are some highlights from the ceremony:

1. Honoring the faculty

Keith Williams, an adjunct CPS professor, received the Faculty Excellence Award for his work in the homeland security program.

“Keith was specifically nominated by his students for his extraordinary instruction in his strategic planning and budgeting course,” Elaine Lammert, director of the Homeland Security Program, said. “Several students have come up to us and said they have become more involved with planning and large projects thanks to Keith’s efforts.”

CPS and GSPM also recognized distinguished retirees for the first time in their commencement program. Roger Whitaker, the founding dean of CPS, was among the faculty recognized for their work and retirement.

“None of my experiences have been more challenging, more satisfying and I hope more consequential than being part of the team that helped develop the College of Professional Studies,” Whitaker said.

2. ‘We must be the leaders in that field’

In his opening remarks, Eskandarian said that both CPS and GSPM stand out for their close ties with different professional fields.

“In CPS we are proud to have closer connections with the professions and professionals than perhaps other schools,” he said.

Many of the award recipients and student speakers were already established in a professional field but still decided to pursue a graduate program. Tonnee Jones, a graduate of the paralegal studies program, gave insight as to why continuing education remains so valuable.

“When I graduated with my bachelor of science I realized that this degree wasn’t enough to prove that I was qualified enough for my career. I took the time to better myself and pursue an even higher level of education. I saw just how quickly my life changed,” she said. “It is not enough to know the field, we must be the leaders in that field.”

Frederick Lawrence, distinguished speaker for the commencement and CEO of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, reminded the audience why pursuing education at the highest level continues to be important in today’s professional environment.

“This is a University that encourages you to act in the world and to change in the world. That is a mission that has never been more compelling and more urgent,” he said.

3. Enacting change

Students were reminded throughout the ceremony that the skills they learned during their graduate program were meant to improve their professional fields.

“GW has allowed us to go out with what we have and put our education to use for the better,” Tremayne Smith, graduate of the political management program, said during his student address.

Smith said that he felt a deep connection to the community he built at GW.

“GW is a quilt knitted together with the diverse experiences that we have brought to our respective programs,” he said. “Along the way if you encounter some obstacles, we now are equipped to make them the stepping stones to lift up and raise high our will and determination for tomorrow.”

Lawrence noted during his speech that, more than just being a GW alumnus, students also need to be able to make changes for themselves.

“Rather than letting your life happen to you, be the one who makes your life happen,” he said. “Decide to decide, and not to be the product of the decisions of others.”

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